I hit a breaking point last week. I fell in to a pattern that I haven’t felt in a very long time – if you’ve read my previous post on self harm, you would know my opinion and history on the subject – you would also know, for me to even think about harming myself, I would have to have hit a pretty deep low. I take these things very seriously, so when I imagined the relief that would come from causing myself physical pain, I immediately booked myself in to my very first therapy session.
Yes, my first therapy session. I’ve been telling myself, and have been told by people close to me, that I should see a therapist for a long time… I’ve never gone though. For some reason I had convinced myself that therapy was an amazing thing for other people, but not for me. That by going to therapy I would be accepting defeat, proving that I am weak and incapable of handling my own life. To reiterate – this is not how I feel about people who see therapists, this is the unrealistic standard I have created for myself, saying that I do not deserve to be helped because I’ve made it this far without it, and by going to see a professional, I am invalidating all of the self preservation efforts I have made up until this point. Does this sound ridiculous to you? Because it does to me. In fact, going and seeing Jessie*¹ was extremely eye opening in a lot of ways, and really helped me come to terms with some of my relationships and my relationship with myself.
One conversation really sticks out to me though – at one point Jessie stopped and asked me –
“When was the last time you were really, truly, angry?”
I stopped, and explained that I had been authentically angry the week prior, but before that it had probably been, at least, a year since I was last outwardly mad. I then explained that being angry scares me. I become extremely vengeful and vindictive, or I completely distance myself from the situation until I am no longer emotionally invested and I can walk away without feeling anything.
This discussion brought up the whole idea of “uncomfortable emotions” and my instinctual relations with them. Honestly, I have a lot of fear when it comes to letting the people around me down, or making people upset. I have, habitually, always taken it upon myself to ensure that the people around me are happy and secure – at the expense of the same things for myself. So when a situation makes me uncomfortable or upset, my immediate reaction is to extinguish whatever I’m feeling for the “greater good”. This is something that I have been able to recognize for a long time, but Jessie helped me actually understand what was happening.
I have, almost, always attributed any “uncomfortable emotions” with my disorders – therefore invalidating their existence and the circumstances that brought them on. It’s easy for me to say “oh, this isn’t about you, it’s my anxiety making me feel this way”, which gives me a reason and a method to cover them up… but it’s also extremely damaging. It denies me the ability to feel anything because nothing is authentic. What I did not take in to consideration, which is something that Jessie brought up, was that my “uncomfortable emotions” are authentic and valid, but my fear of what feeling those emotions might bring (ie. losing a relationship, making someone upset with me, not fitting in to the role that I have been typecast into etc.) inhibits me from being able to feel them to their full capacity.
So instead of how I have always imagined my emotions:
It’s actually more like this:
My disorders do not create my “uncomfortable emotions”, instead, they convince me that by honestly expressing how I feel in the moment, I will hurt/lose something or someone important to me – and that my personal feelings are not worth that risk.
Let’s be real here, I have been a pretty solitary person, my entire life. I’ve never had a lot of friends or people that I trust. The more people you have around you, the higher the risk of disappointing somebody – not to mention my energy bucket depletes about 10x faster than the average human being, so at the end of the day, I really don’t have the mental capacity to handle a lot of people… and that’s on a NORMAL day.
So I keep the few I have close, I do everything I can muster and my anxiety suffocates any “uncomfortable emotion” that bubbles up… But when it finally cracks the seemingly smooth surface, I, all of a sudden, have two years of pent up aggression backing me and I become out of control and destructive.
I’m now in a position where everyone close to me assumes that I have an unending bucket of energy, that I can always sit down and listen and have advice and have their back and have the right things to say, but I just can’t.
So this is me being forthright, in an effort to help myself:
If you upset me, I’m going to tell you.
If you cross a line, I’m going to tell you.
If I am, legitimately, unhappy or uncomfortable with a situation, I’m going to tell you.
If I do not have the energy to focus on you, I’m going to tell you.
It has nothing to do with you personally, but I deserve the right to fully experience and uphold all of my emotions, even the uncomfortable ones.
And if you can’t handle my, new found, honesty – that is fine, but I cannot keep you in my life.
If you can’t appreciate my wanting to better myself, for myself, that is on you… not on me.
*¹pseudonym for the therapist I saw